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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  February 6, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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captioning funded by cbs and ford-- built for the road ahead. >> kroft: tonight, on this special edition of "60 minutes presents: gotti." >> when you became a made man, when you were formally inducted into la cosa nostra... >> you like the way that word sounds, "la cosa nostra," how it flows on your tongue? >> kroft: no one is likely to be watching this story more closely than the f.b.i. >> you break rules, you end up in a dumpster. >> kroft: it's the first extended tv interview john gotti, jr., has ever done. he talks about his life as a made member of the gambino crime family, following in the footsteps of his famous father, the "dapper don," john gotti, sr. obviously, he spent a lot of time in prison for murder.
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how do you justify that? >> i don't know if you can ever justify murder. i don't know if you could justify it. but i can make... i can make some type of an argument. you want to hear it? >> sure. >> okay. dentures are softer than teeth and a lot of people when they get a denture they think the best way to clean it is by brushing it with toothpaste. toothpaste contains abrasives that scratch dentures leaving microscopic crevices where bacteria can grow
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could move forward with confidence. to be there when times are good is one thing... but to be there when times are tough is a different story. ours. >> kroft: good evening. i'm steve kroft and welcome to "60 minutes presents." for nearly three decades, the name "gotti" has been synonymous with organized crime in america. according to the federal government, john gotti, sr., and later, his son, john, jr., ran the gambino crime family, the largest, most influential mafia
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family in the country. gotti, sr., who died in prison nine years ago, was a ruthless gangster who craved celebrity; the son, if you are to believe his story, wanted out. and john gotti, jr., wants people to believe his story. after the federal government put him on trial four times in five years without getting a conviction, he agreed to sit down with us and talk about his family saga in his first extended television interview. he wanted to be the only person we talked to on camera for this story, and to have his lawyer by his side to make sure he didn't say anything that could be used to indict him again, because no one is likely to be watching this story more closely than the f.b.i. >> john gotti, jr.: my father was my cause. if my father wasn't in that life, i probably wouldn't have been in the street life, either. whatever he was is what i wanted to be. and if he decided the next day, "you know what?
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i don't like this anymore. i'm going to be a butcher," i would tell him, "i hope you have a smock for me." that's the way i feel. that's the way i felt. >> kroft: you can tell he still worships his father. >> gotti, jr.: handsome as ever. handsome as ever. >> kroft: not just with the love of a son, but with some of the same misguided romanticism that has long drawn the news media and the public to the mob culture. and john gotti, sr., was the most famous mobster of his generation. he ascended to the top of the gambino crime family by organizing the assassination of his predecessor, paul castellano, outside a popular manhattan steak house. it was a stylistic statement that gotti, sr., would accentuate with $2,000 italian suits and hand-painted ties, earning him a certain brand of celebrity and a nickname, "the dapper don." in new york, a city that worships power of any kind, gotti reached beyond gambling and loan-sharking into the garment center, the garbage business, and the construction
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industry. and he wanted everyone to know what he did, as long as they couldn't prove it. now, a friend of your father's told me there is nothing he loved better than being a gangster. >> gotti, jr.: nothing. nothing. >> kroft: what did he love about it? >> gotti, jr.: everything. there was nothing he didn't like about it. my father lived that life 24/7. 24/7. in fact, his wife and kids were second to the streets. he loved it. he loved the code. he loved the action. he loved the chase. my father had to be out there... out there in the city. no other city can do for john, but new york city. because it never slept, there was always action. he could always find action. >> kroft: was that more important than money? >> gotti, jr.: he hated money. he used to say if a guy was saving money or putting money away, and he was a street guy, he would say, "what's on his mind? what has he got planned?" you know, "at the end of the
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day, we're all going to jail. what's he going to do with that money?" >> kroft: is that the way he looked at life? >> gotti, jr.: he felt that anybody who really, truly lived in the streets-- not the fringe players, not the frauds, not the pretenders-- if you really, truly lived it like john did, at the end of the day, you got to die or go to jail. that's the rules. that's the way it was. >> kroft: it was part of the gangster ethos that permeated the working class italian neighborhoods of new york 50 years ago, where john, jr., grew up with his brothers frank and peter, and sisters victoria and angel. his father was absent for most of their childhood, serving a stretch at lewisburg penitentiary for cargo hijacking. junior was told his dad was off on business, but all the kids teased him that he didn't really have a father, until one day in 1972 when his father came home from prison. >> gotti, jr.: almost on cue, this brown lincoln continental mach 4 with smoked windows, at the time when nobody had smoked windows, comes rolling down the street.
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and it stops right by me. then, the window rolls down. and i turn and i says, "there's my father." everybody was in shock. he goes, "where's the house?" because he didn't know where we lived. so i says, "the second house with the corner with the green awning, dad. i'll see you over there." and he pulls away. he's got chocolate brown suit on with a chocolate brown overcoat and a cream-colored mock neck. and he looks the part. he's beautiful. he looks beautiful. everybody came out on the block to see him. and he turns down the block and gives like... like a regal wave, you know. gives one of those waves, and he goes in, like he owned the place, like he always belonged there, like it was always was his. in fact, all the women on the block began putting notes in his windshield. >> kroft: what kind of notes? >> gotti, jr.: he didn't share them with me, i would guess... i knew my mother would often fight with my father. you know, just giving off the wrong signals. and he would say, "what do you want me to do, walk with a potato sack over my head? it's not my problem that the women on the block fall in love with me." >> kroft: did he talk about what he did for a living? >> gotti, jr.: no, he didn't sit at the table and say, "you know,
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by the way, my take from the numbers rackets are up this week," you know? it didn't go like that. nothing like that. >> kroft: and he didn't have conversations like that with the... with some of his friends. >> gotti, jr.: no. other than my father being away from home-- you know, being incarcerated-- and the hours that he kept, our house was a pretty normal house. >> kroft: gotti says it wasn't until he was 14, when he was shipped off to boarding school at the new york military academy, that he found out exactly who his father was and what he did. and he learned it while watching a news program with his fellow cadets. >> gotti, jr.: and i remember it was 1979, and we're watching a show, and they're saying, "this man's a captain in the gambino family," and this, that and the other thing. and they're talking about him. and i'm mortified. i'm in the back row, and i'm watching this. i'm not saying nothing. and they says, "john gotti," and they... and they're talking. so now, suddenly, the... the other cadets start turning to look at me. say, "he's got the same name as you." "yeah, he certainly does."
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another kid says, "hey, wait a minute. that guy was here last week." and at that point, you would... you... it's there, you know, there. now, it's all on the table, you know. >> kroft: what was the reaction of your classmates? >> gotti, jr.: i guess maybe some of them were intimidated. but most of them thought it was pretty cool. "does your father," they said, "your father kill people? does your father beat people up?" "not around the house." >> kroft: at some point, you must have come to the realization that he did, outside of the house. >> gotti, jr.: probably. but in front of me? no. >> kroft: how did you... how do you, as a young man, react to that? >> gotti, jr.: i'm howard beach. i'm from howard beach. pretty much, we're taught from a young age that you don't call the cops for nothing. we take care of our own problems. and pretty much all your uncles, cousins, friends, father, they're all bouncing around the streets, in one shape or form. and this is the way it is. as 14-year-old kids, 15-year-old kids, we'd go up to the boulevard where we hung out, and we'd talk about, "hey, tough
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break, you know. tony just got ten years. he's going to jail. having a big party for him over there. oh, yeah, good, good, good." and his sons are, you know, sitting next to you. it's just... it was normal conversation for us. >> kroft: you knew people were breaking the law. >> gotti, jr.: sure. sure. >> kroft: and what you're saying is that wasn't considered necessarily a bad thing? >> gotti, jr.: no. no, not at all. >> kroft: because? >> gotti, jr.: because everybody did it. you know what? the guy next to you was a car thief. the guy next to you on your left-hand side, he was a book maker. that's everybody. >> kroft: it was the summer after he graduated from military school that gotti discovered what he thought was his calling, hanging around his father's headquarters at the bergin hunt and fish club. >> gotti, jr.: i'd go to the bergin hunt and fish club all the time. i wanted to be around him. and he had that type of personality. and i would just watch. so you're sitting around the social club, and they'd be playing cards and they're
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hanging out. and they're breaking balls, and cooking, and laughing, and commiserating, and everything's going on. and you're right there, and you're saying, "this is where i belong." >> kroft: but it wasn't all pinochle and pasta. and as these prison videos show john gotti, sr., had a sadistic streak, even when dealing with his ten-year-old grandson, who he thought had showed him disrespect. >> john gotti, sr.: you will get an ass-kicking from me. i ain't your father or mother. i know how to raise children. from me, you'll get an ass- kicking you'll never... you will never forget the ass-kicking you will get from me. >> kroft: this one shows gotti telling his daughter how he would have dealt with an incident involving a neighbor. >> gotti, sr.: you should have went there and told the mother, "listen, you want me to tell my father? you want him to handle it his way? do you want to wake up in the morning and not see your son no more? is that what you desire? do you want us to cut his tongue out of his mouth?" >> kroft: and you had the sense he could do it. he had a temper. >> gotti, jr.: volcanic.
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>> kroft: was that ever directed at you? >> gotti, jr.: when i got in trouble as a kid, once or twice, he'd give me a swift kick in the backside or... or a nice crack. yeah, sure. >> kroft: by 1982, john, jr., could dish it out as well as take it. according to law enforcement, he served a six-year apprenticeship learning the various rackets: shakedowns, illegal gambling, loan-sharking, eventually drawing the attention of f.b.i. surveillance cameras. in 1988, with the encouragement and strong endorsement of his father, john, jr., would become a "made man" in the gambino crime family. when you became a made man, when you were formally inducted in... into la cosa nostra, was that a... was that a big deal for him? >> gotti, jr.: you like the way that word sounds, "la cosa nostra," how it flows on your tongue? >> kroft: no, i... i'm trying to find another word. you... you don't like "mob." you don't like "mafia." >> gotti, jr.: i was a street guy. i was in the streets. >> kroft: okay.
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>> gotti, jr.: and you know, when my father embraced me, put his arm around me and looked at me as a street guy, as a knock- around guy, a bounce-around guy like himself-- proudest moment of my life, was the proudest moment of my life, because i was slowly becoming like him. >> kroft: when you were finally made, he was happy. >> gotti, jr.: i think he was very happy. i think he was as proud as a father would be if his son just made all-american. >> kroft: he would soon trade in his t-shirts for suits, and graduate from the mob rank of soldier to captain, according to the f.b.i., in charge of his own crew. the only person unhappy with his new career was his mother. >> gotti, jr.: she didn't talk to my father for a couple of years as a result of that. she looked at it as, "i left a son in the street." you know, "my son frankie died in my arms at 12 years old." she took it personal. >> kroft: the death of junior's younger brother, frank, in a traffic accident was considered
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the most traumatic event in the family's history, and it would have serious consequences for the neighbor who killed him. what happened, exactly? >> gotti, jr.: he was riding a mini-bike. unfortunately, he jetted out into the street, coming off the belt parkway. and a car hit him, car hit him and killed him. >> kroft: what was the effect on your father? >> gotti, jr.: he didn't show much emotion. but my bedroom, the vent was attached to his den. and i would hear him cry. i would hear him cry. >> kroft: the person that was driving the car... >> gotti, jr.: right. >> kroft: ... disappeared. >> gotti, jr.: correct. >> kroft: do you think that was something your father was involved in? >> gotti, jr.: probably. knowing john and how he was and how he felt about a lot of things, especially regarding his
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own children, he probably was. do i know with certainty? no, i don't know. he'd never discuss that with me, but knowing my father, there's no way you're going to hurt one of his without him hurting you. it's just not going to happen. there's just no way. it's not going to happen. >> kroft: it would not have been the first or the last time that john gotti, sr., had someone killed, but it took a long time for someone to prove it. despite years of video and audio surveillance, the f.b.i. needed the testimony of gotti's underboss, mob rat sammy "the bull" gravano, to finally put the dapper don away for five gangland slayings. obviously, he spent a lot of time in prison for murder. how do you justify that? >> gotti, jr.: i don't know if you could ever justify murder. i don't know if you can justify it. but i can make... i can make some type of an argument. you want to hear it? >> kroft: sure. >> gotti, jr.: john was a part of the streets. he swore that that was his life.
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he swore, "i'm going to live and die by the rules of the streets, the code of the streets." and everybody that john's accused of killing or may have killed or wanted to kill or tried to kill was a part of that same street. that was a part of the same world, the same code. and my father was always said, in his mind, "you break rules, you end up in a dumpster." "if i break rules"-- meaning himself-- "they're going to put two in my hat and put me in a dumpster. that's the way it works." so, am i justifying it? no, i'm explaining it. >> kroft: and you were comfortable living in that world? >> gotti, jr.: when you don't know much else, yeah. yeah, i guess so. i guess so. when you don't know much else, i guess so. >> kroft: you thought you were capable of killing somebody? >> gotti, jr.: i don't think anybody... i... i don't know if anybody ever thinks of themselves as capable of killing anybody, until they're put into that position. >> kroft: you know, i want to ask you, "have you ever killed anybody?" but you're not going to answer that question, are you? >> gotti, jr.: first of all, it's a ridiculous question.
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second off, if you go by the government, who didn't i kill? >> kroft: with his father in prison for life, federal investigators turned their attention to junior, who they say became the acting boss and de facto head of the gambino family, a title and characterization that gotti and his lawyer, charles carnesi, quibble with. >> gotti, jr.: i was my father's son, i'd be his eyes and ears. i'd handle the lawyers, i'd handle monetary issues, to a point. >> kroft: would it be incorrect to say that you were the acting head or the head of the gambino family after your father went to prison? >> charlie carnesi: i don't think that... that that's the title that john ever accepted. i think that's something that law enforcement may been suggesting. i think it may have been, at one point in time, his father's desire for him to succeed him. >> gotti, jr.: i more or less call myself a loyal son. that's my title.
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that's a title i like. >> kroft: it is a fine but important linguistic distinction under federal racketeering law. if john gotti, jr., were to acknowledge that he had responsibility for running a criminal enterprise like la cosa nostra, he could be prosecuted for any criminal act committed by that group during his tenure, regardless of whether he was directly involved. did you ever talk to him about any of this stuff? >> gotti, jr.: no. no. my father tried his best to shelter me from certain things. >> kroft: i mean, that seems kind of hard to believe. >> gotti, jr.: there was no communication between my father and i regarding that. there was none. >> kroft: in part because the conversation would have been recorded. >> gotti, jr.: absolutely. absolutely. >> kroft: gotti says all of his business conversations with his father were relayed through emissaries. whatever you call that "loyal son period," which lasted for seven years, it did not go smoothly. when authorities found $358,000 in the basement of his home,
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along with a list of recently- inducted mafia members, his father was taped calling his son an imbecile, and the new york tabloid press had a field day. they used to make fun of you, that... they used to say that you weren't ready for the job. people were unhappy with you. that you were kind of the "dopey don." did any of that get to you? >> gotti, jr.: no. not at all. not at all. first of all, every time the gottis were in the tabloids on the front page, the sales would go up about 8%, i believe. and that's proven. it was 8%... 8% or 10% increase in sales, so it... >> kroft: for the paper? >> gotti, jr.: for the paper. so, it made good read. who cares? "dopey don." who cares? have fun with it. i'm a godfather 19 times. i have 19 godchildren. i was a best man 13 times. so, you look at that. i had a lot of responsibility. i was... i was popular to a lot of people. >> kroft: but over time, gotti says, he began to have second thoughts about the life he had chosen.
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when did you begin to sour on this whole thing? >> gotti, jr.: before i had my children, i really didn't care if i died in jail. but then once you have children, your perspective completely changes. now, you live your life for them. and i looked at my son and i looked at my daughter, i looked at my other son, all my children. and i would say to myself, "wow, if i'm gone, what are they going to do?" >> kroft: by the late 1990s, he learned that the federal government was preparing to file charges against him for racketeering, and he began to wonder whether he had the stomach for the job. i mean, there was a lot of treachery. >> gotti, jr.: oh, absolutely. there's treachery in every... there's treachery in the corporate world. equally... i have to say-- i can't say more so-- equally so in the streets. >> kroft: still, it was dealt with a little differently on the streets, though? >> gotti, jr.: careers are made and broken. guys are bankrupted. yeah, i can see where you're going with this. ( laughter ) >> kroft: did you ever worry about getting whacked?
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>> gotti, jr.: every day. every day. that's a possibility. it's a possibility that something could happen to you every day of your life. and you know something? when... when you hang out in the streets, you're hanging with a different type of a person. you know, you don't know what's going to happen. you know, you can be with... tony's here today. then, tony's doing ten years tomorrow. billy's here today, and then you never see him again. who knows? anything's possible. it's a volatile existence. >> kroft: when we come back, telling his father he wants to leave the family business and quit the mob. [ female announcer ] it's 9 pm.
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>> kroft: in 1998, john gotti, jr., was indicted by a grand jury and arrested by f.b.i. agents on federal racketeering charges stemming from his role as the acting head of the gambino crime family. after a series of negotiations with the federal government and nine months in jail, gotti, jr., decided he wanted to enter a guilty plea, serve his time, and retire from a life in organized crime. but to do so, he felt like he needed the blessing of his dying father, john gotti, sr., who was serving a life sentence for murder. he asked for and received permission from a federal judge
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to travel to the u.s. medical center for federal prisoners in springfield, missouri, for a face-to-face meeting with his ailing father. it was taped by prison officials, and would be the last time the two would ever see each other. the extraordinary meeting took place in a prison conference room, with the father-- badly disfigured by surgery for throat, neck and mouth cancer-- sitting directly across the table from his son, who wanted to turn his back on a life his father had pulled him into. >> gotti, jr.: and my father starts off by saying, "i received a message that john wants closure." and i looked at my father and, again, we're being monitored, so we have to be very careful how we communicate. >> kroft: he says the agenda had been discussed with his father in advance by family attorney joe corrazo, and that "closure" meant not just pleading guilty, but quitting the mob. the don responded by making fun of the word. >> gotti, sr.: joseph told me "john wants closure." i said, "joseph, that word is
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not in my son's vocabulary. that's overeducated, under- intelligent mother [no audio], that word "closure." it's a new '90s word that i don't like." >> kroft: for gotti, sr., the idea of giving in went against everything he believed in. >> gotti, jr.: he's, you know, "fight, fight, fight. if you accuse me robbing the church, and the steeple's sticking out of my backside, i'm going to deny it." and i can't reach him. and not only that, with the closure, he talked me out of the plea. i know your feelings, dad. i would follow you off a cliff. >> kroft: john, jr., left the prison and returned to new york, where he told his attorney to begin preparing a defense. >> gotti, jr.: and then, last minute, the day we're picking the jury, i sat there. i left the house that morning, getting ready for trial. and i saw my wife, and i saw my kids, and i saw my whole family, and i says, "i got to try to end this. i got to try to end this." and i went and spoke to my lawyers. and i says, "get me the... i'll
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take the plea." >> kroft: what did you plead guilty to? >> gotti, jr.: racketeering. >> kroft: specifically? >> gotti, jr.: i believe it was extortion in the construction industry, gambling, taxes, loan sharking. >> kroft: all things you did? >> gotti, jr.: things i did do, yes, correct. i was a loan shark. the fact that most of my customers joined witsec pretty much bankrupted me in the loan- sharking business. >> kroft: joined what? >> gotti, jr.: the witness protection program. >> kroft: oh, right. >> gotti, jr.: they chased me out of that industry but quick. >> kroft: gotti took the plea, believing the government would leave him alone once he had paid his debt to society, and that he would be able to quit the gambino family and get on with his life. well, first of all, did you think you could get out? did you think people would let you out?
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>> gotti, jr.: sure. why not? sure. why... why couldn't i? >> kroft: well, because there's this old saw. i mean, it was part of one of your trials-- that you can't get out of the mob. you can't get out of the life. >> gotti, jr.: who said? >> kroft: all the movies. it's all the lore. >> gotti, jr.: yeah, the movies. it... it makes great reading, you know. >> kroft: the federal government. >> gotti, jr.: and what makes them an authority on this? the federal government should've embraced my message that you can. you can move on with your life, you can change. instead, it... they said, "no, it's not possible." everybody in the streets let me move on with my life. it's the government that didn't let me move on with my life. they says you can't. the guys in the street says, "good riddance. take care. have a good time." it's just that... it irritated, i guess, someone in law enforcement. >> kroft: why... why do you think it irritated somebody in law enforcement? >> gotti, jr.: because i guess they want you to feel the only options that you have, okay, is death, jail, or cooperate. now, if you want to get out of that life, we arrest you.
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you either could kill yourself, go to jail, or we'll embrace you with open arms. >> kroft: gotti was serving his six-and-a-half-year sentence at the ray brook prison in upstate new york, much of it in solitary confinement, when his father died. when he had the opportunity to make phone calls, they went to his wife and children in long island, and not his gambino family. he even arranged for regular parent-teacher conferences with his son's school. >> gotti, jr.: i made them, in chains, drag me out of my cell every friday. and they put me in a room, belly-chained and handcuffed, and i had a conference, a parent-teacher conference, every friday at 2:00 with my son frankie's school every friday. and it's the only time they ever heard me. if they forgot to come get me for that call, that's the only time i bucked. i would buck in jail when i did that. otherwise, i was a model inmate. and basically, what would happen was they'd put me on speakerphone and i'd be in a room with all the teachers. my son's teachers would be there, his guidance counselors
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and whatnot, and we'd play out the whole week. >> kroft: but his deal with the federal government didn't work out the way he had intended. you thought you were a free man when you got out? >> gotti, jr.: absolutely. >> kroft: but it didn't turn out that way? >> gotti, jr.: no, it didn't turn out that way. it was several weeks before i was supposed to get released, and they indicted me again. i was angry at my lawyers. i was angry at the government. i was angry at everybody. i thought that i got bamboozled. that's what i thought, hoodwinked. >> kroft: the new racketeering charges alleged that john, jr., had ordered an attack 12 years earlier on curtis sliwa, a talk show host and anti-crime crusader who had railed against his father. sliwa was shot in a new york taxi cab and seriously wounded, but survived. gotti denied any involvement. the case was tried three times, each one ending in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked. >> gotti, jr.: after i wasn't convicted, that's where it should have ended. then, it just kept on. so now everyone is putting a target on my back, and everybody was gunning for me.
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didn't matter how it was going to happen, but it had to happen. >> kroft: in 2009, he was indicted again, this time for allegedly participating in or authorizing three murders, all committed before 1992. gotti was held in jail for 16 months without bail, awaiting trial on a case that was based almost exclusively on the word of former mafia associates who received sentence reductions or favorable considerations in exchange for their testimony. >> gotti, jr.: the fact that the... these witnesses, i mean, there's not even a credit check there. all you have to do is slaughter people. and if the trophy you have that you're waving is bigger than themselves, then it's okay. that's a problem. i think that's a problem. >> kroft: charles carnesi is gotti's attorney. was there any other evidence, other than the testimony of these informers that... >> carnesi: not a single piece of evidence-- no eyewitness testimony, no forensic evidence,
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nothing whatsoever. >> kroft: gotti says the chief prosecution witness, john alite, was a drug dealer and a confessed killer, who testified that he had murdered three people on orders from gotti. there was a confrontation in the courtroom. >> gotti, jr.: right, right. >> kroft: with mister alite? >> gotti, jr.: yeah, after he testified, he got off the stand, and he walked towards me, and he smiled and laughed. and that's when i called him a punk and a dog. he always was a punk and a dog. he was a junkie. he was all of those things. a miscreant. he was ostracized and chased out of that neighborhood. he wasn't asked to leave; he was chased out of that neighborhood. he was a trash pail then, he's a trash pail now, he'll always be a trash pail. >> kroft: that trial also ended with a hopelessly deadlocked jury. >> hey, john! >> kroft: when we come back, gotti goes home and tries to move on with his life.
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i'm otis livingston. today in top 25 ncaa college basketball action, top-ranked ohio state beat minnesota to remain undefeated. ben hansbrough had 25 points and eighth-ranked notre dame topped rutgers. number 18 wisconsin dominated michigan state. in the nba, dwyane wade had 28 points and miami beat the l.a. clippers and boston downed orlando. for more sports news and scores, log on to along the way. you leg
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the most branches and atms in the dc area. one near you. [ all ] what's in your wallet? >> kroft: after his court case ended in december of 2009, gotti returned to his home in the fashionable village of oyster bay, long island. at age 47, he is married, with six children ranging in age from four to 20, and he is now trying to acclimate himself to being a free man. even though he claims he is no longer part of the mafia, or "the life," as he calls it, there are things about being a gangster that he misses. >> gotti, jr.: i was in the life. i was active in the life. i embraced the life and everything that went with it.
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but a lot of what you've heard and seen about me is fiction. there's fact and there's fiction, and a lot of it is fiction. >> kroft: was there anything about the life, other than your father, that you liked and enjoyed? >> gotti, jr.: there's a lot to like about the streets. there's a lot of glamour there. you know, there's a lot of what you believe to be camaraderie. you know, there's a lot there. there's a lot there, believe me. it's... it's appealing. it... i found it appealing. >> kroft: the glamour part. tell me about the glamour part? >> gotti, jr.: well, there's the suits, there's the cars. there's the restaurants. there's the attention. the deference you're given, no matter where you go, you know. it means a lot. you feel like you're a special kind of guy. >> kroft: when you got into the life, and particularly after your father went... went away, were you accepted by the other people? >> gotti, jr.: accepted? i was born there. i was running around in the club as a kid. i was born there.
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that's where i belonged, as far as most people were concerned. i've... the people that... i'd read newspapers and read negative things about them. this one, "the hatchet" or whatever nicknames they were given by the media-- i don't know who they were. i would call them "uncle tony" or "uncle bill" or "uncle tom", you know. i knew them since i was a baby, for crying out... since i was a child, running around. you know, it's... it was very natural, very natural. >> kroft: you still live by the code of the street? >> gotti, jr.: no, no, i'm more open-minded in regards to a lot of different things. i mean, the old me, my wife wasn't permitted to get on the phone and talk business with a guy. for crying out loud, if she had to call up the exterminator, and it was a guy, i would have told her in the past, "doesn't he have a secretary you could talk to? what do you have to get on the phone with a guy for? there's no need for this. don't do it again." that's the old me. >> kroft: that's old school. >> gotti, jr.: that's old school and that's the way i was raised.
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>> kroft: today, gotti is a free man and back living in his family's two-acre compound, with a swimming pool and stables. this is a very nice piece of property. >> gotti, jr.: thank you. >> kroft: he claims the property was purchased with income from legitimate businesses, and the government has been unable to prove otherwise. he says it is heavily mortgaged and he is deeply in debt after spending millions on his legal bills. he says the family is getting by on a modest income from commercial real estate properties. >> gotti, jr.: this little guy was born on the first day of jury selection in my third trial. >> kroft: and even though his case has ended, gotti says the media still shows up unannounced to get pictures of him walking around his property. you still get photographers, reporters around? >> gotti, jr.: all the time. all the time, sure. usually... usually they hide right behind that bush over there. listen, i got to be very careful how i walk around my property. god forbid my bathrobe opens up a little bit, and that's an indecent exposure pinch.
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>> kroft: he wouldn't let our cameras film in his house, with one exception. >> gotti, jr.: this is my indian room. >> kroft: indian room? >> gotti, jr.: that's what i call it, the indian room. this is a humidor, this is old. this is the chiefs-- sitting bull, red cloud, chief joseph, eminent crow. >> kroft: and why the fascination? why... why do you like native americans so much? >> gotti, jr.: i love their struggle. i love the plight. i love the fact that they... they never gave up hope. and the oppression-- the oppression means a lot to me. it's wonderful. >> kroft: gotti says he went through his own ordeal three years ago when the f.b.i. came to his house to arrest him on the case that he had been recently acquitted of. tell me about the day you were arrested. >> gotti, jr.: august 5, 2008? you know, so my son, joe, was sick. i was up with him all night. and i finally got him to sleep around 5:30, 20 to 6:00. i went in the bathroom, was washing up.
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i heard the dog barking. my german shepherd, rocky-- he passed on while i was in. and i figured it was my brother coming home. and i says, "you know, i'll fix my brother later on about walking in the house this late." but the dog kept on going, the bark kept on going. and i realized that it was more than just that. so i went to that... before i even got to the window, i told my wife, i says, "get up, they're here for me." she says, "no, no, they're..." i said, "they're here for me. they're here. get up. they're here for me." couldn't believe. we got up, looked out the window, and they were coming from every angle. they were coming over the fences, down the driveway, every angle. >> kroft: how did... how did the family react? >> gotti, jr.: well, that morning, what i did was naturally let the agents in the house. took me to my bathroom, where i had to strip naked, and they had to watch me get dressed. and i remember walking out of the bedroom, the master bedroom. and the baby was in the fetal position, laying on the bed. he wasn't asleep, he was up.
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his eyes were open and he was watching me being led from that room with all the agents around me. my wife had gathered all my kids up and had them downstairs. if i wanted to see them... i want them to see my off. and when i got down to the bottom of the stairs, my daughter pretty much took it hard. she basically, you know, she was throwing the agents out, you know, "what do you's want from him?" you know, "get out. that's it. no, i can't take no more of this. you got to leave him alone." and i... i had to calm my daughter down. i had to make her understand that i'm going to be okay. "daddy'll be fine, don't worry about it. daddy always be okay." but it was hard for a kid to accept. >> kroft: but being a tough guy on the streets was no preparation for raising a teenage daughter at home. you a strict father? >> gotti, jr.: it's not easy to be a father of an 18-year-old daughter. notice i threw "daughter" in. son, i can some, like, grab him by the arm and say, "come here. let me tell you something. let me read you the riot act." a daughter? what do you do? i don't know what to do. i can't grab her by the arm, read her riot act. so i look at her and she tells me, she says, "mind your own business." if a guy told me that, i wouldn't have taken a backward step. so, i guess my parenting skills
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leave a lot to be desired, in that respect. >> kroft: what do you think it's like for the boys that are going out with your daughter? >> gotti, jr.: she doesn't have any boyfriends. >> kroft: so people are afraid to ask her out? >> gotti, jr.: yes, it's awkward. and my daughter says... she keeps blaming it on me. "me? what did i do wrong? i just got here. what did i do wrong?" she says, "well, it's the reputation. they read the newspapers." "sweetie, i can't help that. i don't print those newspapers. i don't know what to tell you. i don't know what you want me to do." i says, "i don't know what i could do differently. if you want, to make you happy, i'll put a pink bunny costume on and i'll hop around the yard. what do you want me to do? i don't know what to tell you, what i can do for you." >> kroft: there are reasons to not want to get in trouble with this family, cross this family. >> gotti, jr.: maybe in the past for what we were, yeah. now? yeah. you had to treat the women in our family a certain way, okay? i would never disrespect a man's daughter. i expect the same. that's the way it has to be. and if you don't, well, then you'll see a side of me that you hope you never saw. >> kroft: so you have this other side? >> gotti, jr.: yeah, i do.
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i do. i was never known to take a backward step in throwing his hands. i don't think that's changed. i still got my temper, unfortunately. >> kroft: were you a tough guy? >> gotti, jr.: was i a tough guy? i thought i was. i thought i was pretty good. i had a reputation in the neighborhood. i was good with my hands, very good with my hands. i had a... my father's temper, i would guess, yeah, sure. >> kroft: so, people didn't really want to mess with you very much? >> gotti, jr.: i guess, for multiple reasons. a) you knew you were going to get into a fight. i was going to fight, that's it. i wasn't taking a backward step to anybody. and b) because, i guess, my father, my uncles, the name... you know, one time when i was a kid, we went to a nightclub and we got into a fight. and there was, i think, three or four of us, and there was about eight or nine kids on the opposing team. and the bouncers just so
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happened to have been their friends. and we got... we got dealt a bad decision. i mean, we got banged up pretty good. and i sounded the retreat and we took off. we took off running. and i remember being sent for. and my uncle angelo sends for me. angelo ruggiero sends for me. and he says, "come on." he says... he's got his son in the car. he says, "get in the car." and i see his son and he's like this in the car, frozen. i said, "uh-oh, this can't be good. we have a problem here." and he gets me in the backseat of the car. and he brings me to the bergin hunt and fish club. and he says, "get inside." and we walk inside. soon as we walk inside, they gave it to us. and we were getting cracks and getting slaps and everything. and i just didn't understand why. and then at the end, my father turns and looks at me and says, "you don't ever take a backwards step. you don't ever retreat. you understand me? you get into a situation like that, you leave it there or let them leave you there. that's the way it works."
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and i looked at him. i wanted to say, you know, "i'm your son." but as far as he was concerned, he took it personal, you know? i'm his son, and i'm affiliated with him and the bergin crew. "and nobody affiliated with us is taking a backwards step. so, now you know for the future. you got a choice. you fight until you can't fight no more, or you come back here and you deal with us. that's the way it's going to work out." >> kroft: but gotti says not all of his father's lessons were about fighting, and he told us this one about dancing. >> gotti, jr.: he always loved to watch other people dance. he'd say, "john, come on, go up there and dance. your mom and i can't dance, but you go ahead and dance." i'd say, "i'm not going to go up and dance, dad. i'm not going to dance." so he'd tell my wife, he says "kim, go ahead, go dance. so she looks at me, like, "is it okay if i go dance?" and i go like this to her-- don't go dance. so my father caught the move, he didn't press it any further. afterwards, he pulls me off to the side-- never to embarrass me.
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that's the kind of guy he was, he wouldn't embarrass me. so he pulled me off to the side and he says, "what was that all about?" i said, "dad, i don't want my wife dancing in a nightclub." he says, "hey, john, let me tell you something. at the end of the day, all we're going to have is memories. that's it. and you got to make as many as you can. that's all you're going to have. you understand me?" and i looked at him, and i says, "yeah, it's okay." "i hope you understand me." and that was it, and i understood it. so now, i understood even more clearly, later on, what he was saying. and i always tell the story to people, i always say, that's the way he was-- "you got to make memories." >> kroft: gotti says he's explored the possibility of leaving the new york area for north carolina or florida, but some of his children are resisting. he says he's interested in writing a book about his life. >> gotti, jr.: i... i've been writing for several years, exploring a literary career. >> kroft: you wrote a children's book. >> gotti, jr.: i did.
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i did. while i was in ray brook. sure. it was fun. it was fun, because it... the fact that i... i had written it, and my cellmate, who was doing 17 years for bank robbery, brian linderman-- sweetheart of a kid. he was... he's somewhat of an artist, so he did all the illustrations. and i couldn't get it published and i couldn't get it published because everywhere we went, they wanted my life. "no, we want to know about the juicy stuff, and then we'll do that." and i wasn't interested in doing it. so, basically, it went nowhere. >> kroft: the next one, he hopes, will be more commercial. but don't expect him to bad- mouth the mob or the people who were loyal to him or his father. they know where he lives, and he says they were happy to let him go, just like he knew they would. it's more money for them. >> gotti, jr.: i'm blessed. blessed. >> kroft: why do you feel that way? you're alive... >> gotti, jr.: i'm alive. i'm free. my children are healthy, which
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is most important. i have the liberty to get up every morning and embrace my children, spend time with my family. i'm blessed. if tomorrow morning, i walked in and saw an oncologist and he told me, "you have terminal cancer," i'm ahead of the game. i can't complain. i won't complain. [ woman ] i had this deep, radiating pain everywhere... and i wondered what it was. i found out that connected to our muscles are nerves that send messages through the body. my doctor diagnosed it as fibromyalgia, thought to be the result of overactive nerves that cause chronic, widespread pain. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i learned lyrica can provide significant relief from fibromyalgia pain. and less pain means i can do more with the ones i love.
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